A. No. We have never seen any Scripture which teaches that those who become new creatures will ever be restored to the perfection of the old or human nature. By nature we are depraved human beings. Since Jesus has paid our ransom price, he that believeth is justified—or imputed to be perfect; in this reckoned or imputed perfect condition, he is invited to present his "body a living sacrifice" to God's service and will, and is assured that it (though actually imperfect) will be "acceptable to God," who reckons us as justified. Now if we accept this invitation and sacrifice the human (will and body) what shall we have? A perfect human being restored to us? Oh no; something far better is promised, viz: In the resurrection such shall be like unto the angels—Like unto Christ's glorious body.
Restitution, is promised to the world, and we rejoice that the time for their receiving it is even now at hand and that they shall have so grand a blessing as to be made perfect men, but to those who can walk by faith (not by sight) and can during this Gospel Age realize their justification by the precious blood of Christ and who then consecrate and crucify the human, (with all its prospects here and hereafter) to such, God has promised the divine nature and image, which is a prize so much greater, as not to be comparable.
Such as have started on the "narrow way" for the divine are going in exactly the opposite direction to the perfecting of the human. The divine can only be obtained by the death of the human. But "few there be that find it." Alas, too many are striving for the perfecting of the flesh, hoping thereby to reach the divine nature; but just as soon might a man living in Utica, N.Y., expect to reach Albany by walking toward Chicago—it is the opposite direction.
When we covenanted that we would suffer with Jesus that we might reign with him—become dead with him that we might live with him on the higher spiritual plane, we started by reckoning the flesh dead and the Spirit alive as a new creature. This was right and must be fully carried out until the death is no longer reckoned but actual and until the SPIRITUAL LIFE is perfected.
We that are in this (earthly) tabernacle do groan, not that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon with our house which is from heaven (our spiritual body). But we don't want and have no need of a perfect house of earth and none is mentioned as being for us.
"Having begun in the Spirit are ye now made perfect in the flesh?" (Gal. 3:3.) Having begun to reckon ourselves new creatures shall we change our hope and be perfected as human beings? God forbid.
To your second question, "What will be the power of the perfect church and how exercised?—we answer, that being begotten of the Spirit we shall if we follow on be born of the Spirit. The spiritual seed will have "a spiritual body," the natural seed "a natural (human) body"—"To every seed his own body." Speaking of the change coming to those who have part in the (first) resurrection, Paul says, It is sown mortal, in dishonor, and weakness, a natural body; it is raised in the power of glory, honor, and Immortality—a spiritual body. (1 Cor. 15:38,42-44) So giving us a faint glimpse only, of the perfected spiritual church's power.
Their work as members of the spiritual "seed" is to bless all the families of the earth. (Gal. 3:29.)
Q. Bro. R., If your exposition in last number, of the passage—"We shall not all sleep"—is correct wherein consists the mystery mentioned? (1 Cor. 15:51.)
A. It is so great a mystery, that few seem able to realize, that if a member of the body of Christ die now, instead of sleeping even for a moment, he is changed to a spiritual body in an instant—in the twinkling of an eye.
It is of these only, that the words "O! death where is thy sting? O! grave where is thy victory?" (1 Cor. 15:55) are fully applicable.
In the case of Jesus even, the grave had a victory for nearly three days, and death had a sting which made our dear Lord cry in agony—"My God My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" And death has had a sting and the grave a victory all down through the age until now. Now the grave will get no victory over us, for into it, will merely be dropped the robe of flesh—the used up "earthly house," while we (as spiritual new creatures) shall not sleep, but will be "changed in a moment."
The whole church and finally the world get "victory" over the grave by a resurrection. And all will have the sting of death withdrawn "through our Lord Jesus Christ." But behold I show you a mystery—over us "who are alive and remain" the grave will not have any victory, no not so long as "a moment" or "a twinkling of an eye."
Dear Bro. Russell, I want to make an inquiry relative to the thought advanced in last number of the paper, viz: That all the members of the body of Christ must die physically; and that the translation takes place in the "moment" of death. [And I must say, that it seems reasonable, and in general harmony with the Scriptures so far as I have studied.]
My question is, Does not this application interfere with the Elijah type, at which, for some time we have looked with interest? Elijah did not die; and if he is a type and we the antitype, it would seem to teach that we should not die.
A. "Ye, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit;" and if Elijah is a type (as we feel sure he is) his actions, translation, story, etc., must be typical of us as spiritual—new creatures (and not of the old human creature).
Thus considered, you will find the type in perfect harmony with our deductions. We as new creatures, are to be "caught away" from earthly conditions, earthly body and all—"changed" to perfect spiritual bodies "in a moment." Elijah was certainly not in any sense a type of the natural man. We must not forget to count ourselves as God counts us, viz: New creatures, partakers of the divine nature (already dead as human beings and already alive toward God and only waiting to have our existence perfected as spiritual beings by being clothed upon with our heavenly body.